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You’re not a good stylist if you do full looks — you’re a dresser.

Certainly, the brands that hold the most sway over how their collections are styled for editorial are those with hefty advertising budgets, and this power proves particularly valuable when a new brand aesthetic is being established. Of all the fashion houses to issue styling diktats to fashion magazines — including major labels like Saint Laurent, Céline, Christian Dior, Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton — Calvin Klein, it appears, is currently the most demanding. With Raf Simons in place as its recently appointed chief creative officer, the New York-based brand is keen to cement the Belgian designer’s vision for the brand by issuing stern commandments for editors. The rule is that any items from Simons’ debut ready-to-wear collection (Autumn/Winter 2017) must be photographed as a full catwalk look, not styled with any other brands (even non-branded apparel and vintage clothing) or even items from other looks from the same catwalk collection. Even accessories must not be worn with any other piece of clothing: the brand will provide a nude nylon bodysuit to accompany a pair of boots. Essentially, the clothes shouldn’t be styled at all, but merely placed on the model as seen on the runway and in the brand’s advertising campaigns. “A full look gives a stronger message,” says a senior fashion publicist, also speaking anonymously. “With a new creative director, a change in aesthetic means that you can define what the look is and it boils down to having a very clear vision and a purer communication of it.” From a publicist’s point of view, there’s also the logistics benefit of sending each complete look as a package. “A look will go from shoot to shoot,” the publicist explains. “If you split a look up, it becomes fragmented. When it’s [sent out and photographed] as a full look, it’s not split up between five different shoots around the world.” This new normal in fashion photography has left many stylists frustrated, however. “You’re not a good stylist if you do full looks — you’re a dresser,” asserts Alexandra Carl, fashion director of Rika, a biannual style title, who has also contributed to W and Vogue Italia. “It takes away the creativity and kills the inspiration because it’s so heavily controlled. How am I or a photographer going to make a stamp on it?” As an independent title, Carl says that the pressure from advertisers on Rika is not as strong as when she works on mainstream publications. “People should look at the credits and be surprised,” she says. “The Balenciaga collection is already beautiful, so it’s not difficult to make it look good as it is. It’s much harder to mix in commercial pieces and make it look cool.”

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